Sarah-Elizabeth Rooks was our Halloween Spooky Story Competition winner this year. Here is her spooky story- straight from the horse’s mouth!
I was bred for the racecourse. Every moment of my life had been planned out before I was even born. My previous life had been a pleasant one. Hard but enjoyable. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Jumped every fence that was placed in front of me. Received a lot of pats and mints from a fancy lady in a big hat and enjoyed cuddles from the nice boy who looked after me. Until that day. My leg hurt after that last race. Not a searing pain but enough to make me walk funny. The old gentleman who drove past us every day said I had done a leg. Away he must go. I felt sad. I liked the farm cat who laid in my stable every night, I liked my next-door neighbour. I liked the boy who looked after me. So away I went. Through the night we travelled. Unloaded in an unfamiliar place as the night sky started to turn a pale shade of silver and the sun started to raise his sleepy head from his bed. My headcollar was taken off and grass! Oh my gosh. Grass! But wait…
I could smell it before I saw it. Every nerve ending in my body fired off like the sting of Yorkshire rain on my skin. I can feel the chill of the morning frost against my clipped coat and I shiver. Not from the cold, this shiver was compulsive. My muscles tremble and another shiver travels through my body. Something wasn’t right.
My heart is thumping through my chest, blood pumping throughout every muscle on my defined body. I could see its silhouette in the distance, whatever it is.
I give out a little nicker hoping for a response from a friend. Nothing. The silence is so deafening that it almost hurts my ears. I take a step forward, everything in my body is telling me to run but my curious nature says move forward. Just one step. One step can’t hurt can it?
Through the haze of the morning frost I can see it has 4 legs but it’s nothing like I have ever seen before. I stand here watching it for a moment and I see it move. A tiny flicker, nothing more. It may even have been a blink of its eye. It’s looking at me. Watching me. Those shivers increase. My hard muscles trembling. My rug feels harsh, abrasive against my coat, heavy. It is weighing me down as I feel the overwhelming urge to run. It moves again. The thumping in my chest becomes almost deafening. I freeze. My ears alert, high. Paralysis completely taking over my body. It’s coming towards me. I want to move but can’t. Its outline against the morning mist says it’s a bigger animal. Much bigger than my old friend Cat. Much smaller than me but big enough. I have heard stories of lions, tigers and crocodiles picking off horses like me. At least once on every lot, they say a tiger prowled the gallops waiting for its moment to pounce. I never saw it but maybe it was true? Maybe. Finally, a shrill whinny leaves my throat. It’s a noise I didn’t even know I could produce. I had always previously felt so safe in my groups of horses, rarely alone. Sometimes with friends, sometimes with foes but always safe and never alone. There is no rider to give me pat, no encouraging heels at my side saying its ok.
I quickly cast a glance behind me. We have an audience. The nice man who drove the horsebox is standing with a lady. They are laughing. Maybe this is what happens to lame horses like me. Maybe the stories of horses being fed to tigers is true? Maybe it’s me or it? Maybe we fight to the death? I collect my senses. Standing here isn’t going to get me anywhere. I puff my chest out and match this strange walking shadow stride for stride. We’re prowling, stalking one another. It stops. I stop. It’s about 50ft away from me. I lower my head to get a better look at it. All of a sudden it snorts. A low, rumbling snort that shakes my bones and chills me to the core. Panic is rising again. My 20 seconds of bravery leaving my body as quickly as Frankel left the starting stalls. Its moving again towards me. A slow, rickety movement that seems to echo across the ground with every step.
Its outline is clearing as the sun finally starts to rise across the valley. I can make out its body, its head. It looks like a horse but nothing like I have ever seen in my life before. It is hairy, shaggy almost and as round as it is tall. Very, very round. Is this truly what tigers look like? Every step closer it gets, my paralysis increases. Every ounce of my body wants to turn and run. 30ft… 25ft… 20ft… And then it stops again. Its fat body is defined by blotches all over its body. Its mane is wiry and extravagantly styled, bits standing up on end. Once again, we have a standoff. It’s looking at me. I am looking at it. It raises its head and glares at me through that long, tangled fringe. Its nostrils flared; ears pricked. This is it. I am going to die. Suddenly it lets off a deep whinny. “Hullo. Gled tae meet ye” it calls in a thick Scottish accent.
It’s a gruff, thick sort of greeting. Hang on. Hang on. Wait a moment. It speaks Horse! This obviously highly intelligent horse eating Tiger speaks horse. It’s coming towards me again. It tosses that unruly mane. Its smell is overwhelming now. It smells like a horse and looks sort of like a horse but this ain’t no horse like I have ever seen before. I let out a tentative whinny back, my voice faltering slightly. Show no fear my mother told me, but I couldn’t help it. “Erm, who goes there?”
Its moving again. I have to admit that fear my fear is slowing. If it was going to eat me, surely it would have done it by now? That creaky movement, rocking, rickety and deliberate. It’s actually quite small. It stops again less than 5ft away and I can clearly see every part of it. It speaks again “Guid mornin’ young Laddie. Ma name’s Mike. A’m yer host fur th’ neist few months”. What? Wait? A wry smile is growing across my lips as I replay the last 5 minutes in my brain. “Awright Laddie, dinnae yee speak?” Oh, now this is embarrassing. And then it dawns on me. Shetland pony. This fat, round Scottish little thing is a Shetland pony. “Erm, Hey Mike. I think we’re going to be good friends”